New York : The number of new cases of metastatic prostate cancer in the US climbed 72 percent in the past decade from 2004 to 2013, reports a new study.
Metastatic cancer is a cancer that has spread from the part of the body where it started (the primary site) to other parts of the body, according to the American Cancer Society.
If a patient is diagnosed with localised prostate cancer that is aggressive, treatment can be curative. If men present with metastatic prostate cancer, treatments are not curative and only slow disease progression.
Most patients with metastatic prostate cancer eventually die from the disease.
“There could be a significant increase in prostate cancer death rates if more people are diagnosed with metastatic disease, because treatments can only slow progression, it’s not curable,” said senior study author Edward Schaeffer from Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University in Chicago.
The largest increase in new cases was among men 55 to 69 years old, which rose 92 per cent in the past decade, the study said.
The findings were published in the journal Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases.
The team analysed information from the National Cancer Data Base in the US. It included 767,550 men from 1,089 facilities nationwide who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer between 2004 and 2013.
The study measured the total number of cases of metastatic prostate cancer, not the incidence, for example, of cases per 100,000.
The number of cases of metastatic prostate cancer in 2013 was 72 per cent greater than that in 2004 (1,685). In middle-aged men 55 to 69 years old, the number rose 92 per cent from 702 new cases in 2004 to 1,345 in 2013.
The researchers found that the average PSA (prostate-specific antigen) of men who were diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer in 2013 was 49, nearly double that for men diagnosed in 2004 with an average PSA of 25, indicating a greater extent of disease at diagnosis.
The blood level of PSA, a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland, is often elevated in men with prostate cancer.
“The fact that men in 2013 who presented with metastatic disease had much higher PSAs than similar men in 2004 hints that more aggressive disease is on the rise,” Schaeffer said.
“If I were a patient, I would want to be vigilant. I firmly believe that PSA screening and rectal exams save lives,” Schaeffer noted.